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Restaurants, other businesses struggle to hire new employees in pandemic recovery


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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — On top of changing COVID-19 restrictions, restaurants and other businesses are dealing with another, unexpected hurdle — trying to hire people.

Garrett Benedict, chef and owner of G-Love, is experiencing that firsthand.

It’s been a busy six weeks for them since the restaurant re-opened with patio dining after closing over the winter.

“Our reopening’s been fantastic, super busy, very very fortunate,” Benedict said.

Getting back to business meant bringing back employees and hiring others.

Initially he said they had no problem getting people on board.

Now they’re doing so well that Benedict wants to ramp up some more, but he can’t find the workers to do that.

“Just about two weeks ago we were attempting to hire more people in the kitchen just because we’ve been so busy and when we used to get 30, 40 applications, I got one,” he said. “It’s a little bit disconcerting as far as where is the workforce, we’re trying to expand, we’re trying to offer more meal periods here at G-Love and if we don’t have the workers, we can’t do that.”

Just this week the Oregon Employment Department and Oregon Office of Economic analysis put out an article saying Oregon’s labor market is tighter than we might think, that more than half of Oregon’s employers say they’re having difficulty hiring workers.

They list several reasons, including a smaller work force because of COVID-related issues, people on unemployment benefits which average $16.75 an hour, and rapid re-hiring as things started re-opening creating more competition among employers looking for workers.

It’s also been a tumultuous time for the leisure and hospitality industry, now facing another setback with upcoming restrictions. According to the Oregon Employment Department, that industry lost nearly 39% of jobs last year.

Benedict thinks some food service workers may have moved or changed careers.

“It’s a bizarre situation to be in,” he said. “We’re in a global pandemic, we’re very very fortunate that our restaurant is busy enough to have the demand to expand but when we try to expand we can’t hire the workforce in order to be able to do that.”

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Article Topic Follows: National-World

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